A weighty military history for students and scholars.



A massively detailed narrative of one of the greatest victories in U.S. military history.

Early in the morning of Jan. 8, 1815, Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson was having coffee at a home in New Orleans when an artillery ball passed through the room. Grabbing his sword, Jackson looked to his staff and said “Come on—we shall have a warm day.” Over the next several hours, writes historian Davis (The Rogue Republic: How Would-Be Patriots Waged the Shortest Revolution in American History, 2011, etc.), former director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, Jackson led his ragtag force to a smashing victory that both secured the West for the United States and set Old Hickory on the road to the presidency. The last major engagement of the War of 1812, the Battle of New Orleans served as a showcase for Jackson’s tenacity, skill, and leadership. Davis effectively depicts how Jackson overcame obstacles such as poor health, an ineffective Louisiana legislature, and a bitter feud with the governor to shrewdly build up the city’s defenses, a strategy that proved wise when the anticipated British assault ended in disaster. Throughout the narrative, the author sprinkles intriguing details: One of the few Americans to die at the battle was Thomas Jefferson’s nephew; Edward Pakenham, who led the British forces at New Orleans, was the Duke of Wellington’s brother-in-law; the supposed lethal effectiveness of the “Kentucky riflemen” was largely a myth, as Jackson’s artillery inflicted most of the damage. Unfortunately, the author also missteps. Repetitive phrases abound, and the “rebirth of America” referenced in the subtitle appears in an epilogue, which makes that part of the book feel tacked-on. Most fundamentally, the narrative is clearly aimed toward military enthusiasts and thus occasionally bogs down in descriptions of troop movements, engagements, and armaments. As is his wont, Davis delivers a highly descriptive and prodigiously researched book, but general readers should look elsewhere.

A weighty military history for students and scholars.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-58522-7

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Dutton Caliber

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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